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Escarole and White Bean Soup

Escarole is a variety of endive. The leaves are broader, paler and less bitter than other members of the endive family. Escarole, kale and chard, are hearty greens that thrive late into the growing season. The heart of an escarole head is less bitter because the leaves haven’t gotten as much sunlight. Escarole and endive and Kale are high in folic acid, fiber, and vitamins A and K, escarole can be eaten raw or gently cooked. Try tossing a few escarole leaves into a mild salad, serve some quickly wilted with lemon juice, or stir chopped escarole into soup. A medium head of escarole usually yields about seven cups of torn leaves. The endive in your shares would otherwise be called chicory. Wrap these leafy greens in paper towel, store in a plastic bag, store for a few days. Kale will keep a day or two longer than the escarole and endive. To keep a little longer in the refrigerator, blanch the leaves for 1-3 minutes. Submerge into ice water. Drain. Use within a day or two or freeze for future use.

Escarole and White Bean Soup

2-15 oz cans of cannellini beans, drained
4-6 cups of vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 cups coarsely shredded escarole and endive leaves washed and drained
1 medium onion chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
½ t crushed hot pepper, or to taste
Salt to taste

Heat the beans and 4 cups of broth and bay leaves allow to simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir in the escarole and cook, (continue to stir occasionally), until the escarole is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.

In another pan, heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion, saute, shaking the pan, until softened and very lightly browned, do not allow garlic and onion to burn! Carefully pour one ladleful of soup into the skillet. Add the crushed pepper, swirl the pan to blend and then stir the pan full of seasoned soup back into the pot. Check the seasoning add additional broth as needed and let the soup rest off the heat, covered, 10-15 minutes. Serve with garlic bread. Be sure to remove the bay leaves.
Optional, add some sliced cooked sausage, allow soup to simmer a little with the sausage to blend in the flavors.

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